The Ministry of Tourism has notified industry associations and individual businesses that it is waiving fees to renew all types of tourist licences that are valid for next year.
The move is intended to further help the tourism sector, which has been gravely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said on Monday that, “[The ministry] waives all types of fees to renew all types of tourist licences that are valid for 2021.”
He said businesses are still obliged to apply to renew tourism licences from the ministry or other administrations according to the size of the business.
The ministry confirmed that the fee waiver is only for the 2021 licences and businesses that apply for new ones for 2021 still have to pay the fees.
The ministry said tourism businesses with expired licences have to pay fines. But their renewal fees for 2021 would be waived from January 1 to December 31, 2021.
Ministry spokesman Top Sopheak said on Tuesday that the tourism licence renewal fees are estimated to be worth $1 million.
The list includes 10 types of tourism services, including resorts and accommodation such as hotels and guesthouses, restaurants and canteens, entertainment venues and KTV.
However, the ministry has only managed major tourist services such as guesthouses and hotels ranging from 21 rooms and above. Smaller services have been transferred to sub-national administrations.
Sopheak said most tourist service providers have licences that are valid for only one year, but some have licences that are valid for two years. Whether businesses have licences for one or two years, those which have their licences renewed for 2021 will receive the fee waiver.
“They still must have their paperwork processed as usual and sent to the minister to apply for licence renewal, but they just don’t have to pay the fees. We already transferred most of the licences to the capital and provincial levels,” he said.
Cambodian Tourist Federation (CTF) president Luu Meng said on Tuesday that the waiving the fees was good for the sector which is encountering difficulties.
He said there are nine associations within the CTF, and each is made up of 500 members for each type of tourism business. Each business could pay between 250,000 riel and three million riel ($61 and $728).
Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (Cata) president Chhay Sivlin said waiving the fees helps reduce the burden on business people in the tourism sector when today they have no income.
“They want to continue the businesses and hope that there is some improvement which will help them. Hopefully, this pandemic will abate soon. If the situation continues many might close their businesses,” she said.
Sivlin applauded the move from the government, saying if the situation was like before, a two million riel payment a year is not much. But given the situation, the sum is a large contribution for them.
She requested that the government does what it takes to retain experts in the tourism sector because many companies and enterprises maybe not retain people with tourism knowledge during this challenging situation.
“Tourism experts could change careers. When the situation returns to normal we could face a shortage of human resources in the sector. So, retaining all tourism experts prepares us to serve customers when the situation improves,” she said.